Donnafugata Bell’Assai Vittoria DOC Frappato, Sicilia 2019

Medium ruby color; red berries, grapes, violets, roses, lavender on the nose; strawberry, pomegranate, tart cherry, raspberry, cinnamon on the palate. Continue reading “Donnafugata Bell’Assai Vittoria DOC Frappato, Sicilia 2019”

Fruit wines 5-18-2022

Almost all the wine we drink is made from various varieties of Vitis vinifera, a grape native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia. There are more than 10,000 varieties of this genus of grape.

But Vitis vinifera is not the only fruit that produces wine.
Virtually any fruit can produce wine.

Vitis labrusca is a grape native to eastern North America. Some wines are made with Vitis labrusca, but you likely know it better as Concord grape juice and Concord grape jelly.

Concord grape jelly (Photo by Famartin)

• Strawberry wine uses strawberries, water, lemon juice, yeast, and sugar. Sugar and water are key ingredients in most fruit wines. Sugar is needed because many fruit wines do not have enough natural sugar to support fermentation, but you can go light on the added sugar to produce a dry, low-alcohol wine. Strawberry wine aroma is distinct and agreeable, and the wine delivers a parade of pleasant flavors.

• Plum wine is made from fermented plums in a way similar to how apples are used for cider. It is particularly associated with the north Cotswolds in south-central England.

• Pineapple wine is a soft, dry wine with a strong pineapple bouquet. In Mexico, it is called tepache and has an alcohol content similar to beer. Pineapple wine also is popular in Thailand and other southeast Asian countries.

• Pomegranate wine is commercially produced in Israel and marketed as Rimon. The Israeli wine is made from a special variety of pomegranates developed to deliver high levels of sugar for fermentation.

• Dandelion wine uses dandelion petals, sugar, and—often—lemon juice. Most dandelion wine is homemade, but several U.S. wineries produce it as a commercial product.

• Banana wine is made from ripe bananas that are mashed and then boiled for several hours to form a base of juice and pulp. The resulting mash is strained, sugar is added, and the juice boiled again. Fermentation lasts up to three weeks, then sterilized water is added to dilute the wine. It is particularly associated with Tanzania, the Philippines, and India.

• Cherry wine is made using tart cherries and can be the basis of fortified wines and liqueurs. Michigan is the leading cherry wine state—it is the leading cherry-producing state after all.

These are some of the most popular fruit wines. Other fruit wines are made with oranges, lychee, blackberry, blackcurrant, blueberry, cranberry, elderberry, gooseberry, raspberry, and mulberry. All you need is fruit juice, sugar, yeast, and time. Voilà! Wine.

Last round: How do you impress a female baker? Send her flours. Wine time.

Top grapes by country 5-11-2022

While most countries produce a variety of wines, they also have a signature export wine and grape variety. The University of Adelaide in Australia tracks this and presents the signature variety for the top 25 wine-producing countries.

Here are the university’s findings. Some are obvious and easy. Some will be grapes or countries you did not expect or never encountered before.

• Argentina: Malbec
• Australia: Syrah
• Austria: Grüner Veltliner
• Brazil: Isabella
• Bulgaria: Shiroka Melnishka; also called Melnishka
• Canada: Seyval Blanc
• Chile: Cabernet Sauvignon
• Croatia: Graševina
• Czech Republic: Grüner Veltliner
• France: Merlot
• Germany: Riesling
• Greece: Savatiano
• Hungary: Blaufränkisch
• Italy: Sangiovese
• Moldova: Moldova
• New Zealand: Sauvignon Blanc
• Portugal: Tempranillo
• Romania: Feteasca Regala
• Russia: Cabernet Sauvignon
• Slovenia: Graševina
• South Africa: Chenin Blanc.
• Spain: Airén
• Switzerland: Pinot Noir
• United States: Chardonnay
• Uruguay: Tannat

Tasting notes:

• Viu Manent Secreto Malbec, Valle de Colchagua, Chile 2019: Fulsome with rich, savory, dark fruit flavors. Good structure, balance. Superb QPR. $13-16 Link to my review

• Aia Vecchia Lagone, Toscana 2018: Excellent, affordable introductory wine to world of Super Tuscan. $14-17 Link to my review

• Talbott Vineyards Kali Hart Estate Grown Chardonnay 2019: Aggressively fruit-forward. Round, creamy. Pamela Anderson, not Audrey Hepburn. $14-18 Link to my review

• L’Ecole No. 41 Semillon, Columbia Valley 2019: Top-tier libation for less than a Benjamin. Astonishing opportunity. Do not pass it up. $15-18 Link to my review

• Acquiesce Grenache Blanc, Lodi 2020: Intense fruit flavors framed by good acidity and minerality. Eloquent expression of classic Rhône varietal with Lodi flair of ripe, tasty fruit. $28-30 Link to my review

• Peju Province Winery Merlot, Napa Valley 2016: Robust merlot with bright flavors, assertive tannins. Merlot with character and attitude. Nice harmony of various flavor elements. $45-55 Link to my review

• Farmhouse Vineyards Smōk & Miroirs NV: Bold expression of Texas mourvèdre. If you like red wine big and beef bold, this is worth the effort to secure it. $50 Link to my review

• Aperture Cellars Sonoma County Red Blend 2019: Breathtakingly excellent Bordeaux-style blend. If you can find it, buy it. Supple, silky, excellent depth, length. $55-58 Link to my review

• Adobe Road Shift Red Wine 2019: Bottle with gear shift topper and five-speed shift plate gives pause this is more gimmick than good, but wine comes through in the clutch without having to downshift the evaluation. $55-65 Link to my review

Last round: Before visiting the lions at the zoo, an English professor told to his students: “Make certain you understand the difference between your dinner and you’re dinner.” All students but one got it. That student didn’t make it out of the zoo.

Bordeaux blends 4-27-2022

When people speak of red wine blends, Bordeaux invariably is in the conversation. Here is a quick primer on the region and its blends. Continue reading “Bordeaux blends 4-27-2022”

Farmhouse Vineyards Smōk & Miroirs NV

Deep ruby-inky black color; black fruits, blackcurrant, bacon, smoke on the nose; blackberry, black cherry, black pepper, meat, tobacco on the palate. Continue reading “Farmhouse Vineyards Smōk & Miroirs NV”

Cru Beaujolais 3-2-2022

Beaujolais is a lovely French region sandwiched between Burgundy and Lyon. Last century, it was known for its kitschy, flash-in-the-pan plonk—Beaujolais nouveau. Today, it is known for being the next big thing in quality wine. Such are vino’s vicissitudes. Continue reading “Cru Beaujolais 3-2-2022”

Ripeness 1-26-2022

“Ripeness” may be a winemaker’s most important decision. Ask three different winemakers their definition of ripeness, however, and it is possible you will get six different answers. Ripeness is just that complex. Continue reading “Ripeness 1-26-2022”

Prosecco-Champagne

Champagne and prosecco are sparkling wines. Both can be delicious, liven up an event, pair well with many foods. But they are completely different wines. Comparisons: Continue reading “Prosecco-Champagne”

Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2017

Pale gold color; pineapple, mango, milk chocolate on the nose; ripe peach, pear, apricot, honey, green apple, Meyer lemon, lime, beeswax, minerality on the palate. Continue reading “Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2017”

Direct to consumer boom

The U.S. wine industry enjoyed its largest year-over-year increase in direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales in 2020. Much can be attributed to COVID-19, but even if you bought online because of pandemic fears, many will stay with DTC because of convenience and expanded choice. Continue reading “Direct to consumer boom”